Friday, October 18, 2013

sometimes words are more than i can handle

i've been working on a post about some exciting news, but finding the words is more than i can seem to handle right now. so i'm posting some photos of what we've been up to lately (and some captions, because i guess i have enough words for that). 
 about a week and a half ago lucy started walking for real. she still seems to prefer crawling most of the time because she's still unsteady on her feet (and her crawl is a lot faster), but she definitely can go around on her own two feet without assistance. 
 sam has been working on his list of sight words, and has them pretty firmly under his belt (though he occasionally has trouble with short a and short i words, like "it" and "at" or "in" and "an"). since he was able to do most of the words on his flashcards, i started to string them together into short sentences for him to read. these are a few he was able to do. i'm hoping he'll realize that reading isn't too far from his grasp, though i'm not sure that he's all that interested in reading on his own. perhaps we need different reading materials.
air-popped popcorn is tasty AND entertaining,
 and great for sharing.
 road trip view
and a few of niagara falls through a fence.
 a ride around the state park is a good time to relax.
but sometimes it's better get out and walk.
 perfect weather really makes everything feel grand.
 but the water had places to go and things to do.
 and we got a hitchhiker.
 but then it was over.
 and we drove back home.
 to find that the halloween mask had arrived! brilliant!
 there was a lot of picking up sam from school. and girly time with me and my little moviestar.
who was infatuated with daddy's stack of novels.

Friday, September 27, 2013

life is happening, right here

american dagger moth caterpillar crawling up the side of our house

here it is, nearly october, and it's been ages since anything has been put down in the blog. not a word about lucy's birthday parties (she had two), about me quitting my job (i did, and then i didn't), or about sam's adventures in preschool (he started the tuesday after labor day). so, in an effort to catch up, here are the highlights from the past two months:


lu's second birthday cake + lu successfully avoiding the token "messy first birthday cake" photos by using a fork 
(seriously? what one-year-old does this? mine, apparently.)

- the day after lu's first birthday, we packed up the car and left for the family reunion in minnesota. considering the length of the drive (and the ages of our little people), it was relatively painless. we enjoyed a week of playing and cooking and eating and hanging out (and more partying). the worst part of all that travel was having to leave after a week of reveling in the company of all that family (and easy access to lots and lots of swimming), and having to return to real life.

the view from my new office window, right before i quit

- but that's what we did. on monday after returning from vacation, mike and i headed back to work, leaving the kids in the hands of my very capable (and very tired, because they had also driven home from minnesota) parents. 
when i got to work, i officially gave notice that i would be leaving my job at the end of august. it was really hard for me to throw in the towel after being there for twelve years, but it seemed to be the best option for our family (not having to find a new sitter that would meet all of our requirements and still not cost an arm and a leg was the main consideration, of course). so, notice was given, and I spent the day unpacking my office (they had just relocated me to a better office with a great view *sigh*), and trying to wrap up a few projects that needed to be completed before the end of the month. the next day, my boss called to let me know that my resignation was rejected, and that her boss wanted to know if there was some arrangement we could come up with that would still allow me to work for them. i ended up signing an independent contractor agreement which allows me to work from home ten hours a week and i end up having more take-home pay (even with setting aside money for taxes at the end of the year) than i had when i was working twice as many hours and had to pay for childcare and transportation. i did lose any benefits i had retained when going to part-time, but since we are already paying into mike's benefits, it's not a huge loss. i'm still making out better than i would have if i'd simply gone to stay-at-home status. bonus.
the only hitch to working as a contractor was having to buy my own mac and software, but we figured if it needed to be done to continue working, it needed to be done, and we put down the chunk of change (though we'll easily make up the cost within the first few months of my contract) and bought a mac and software. of course we found out a week later that i was going to get my beloved work computer back (they wouldn't allow my personal computer access to the network, and i had network access written in as part of the contract). i now have two macs on my desk, and have done at least one (paid) project on each, so having spent the money wasn't so bad. huzzah.
i started my contract on september ninth, and have yet to have a ten-hours-only week, but i'm enjoying being home (for the most part), and that i still get to be a "working mom" if only in a very small capacity.


lu and grandparents + sam and mike at the concert (packed tight amongst the sea of concert goers)

- the last weekend in august, we took my parents out to the pixar concert at blossom as belated birthday gifts. it was a great night with good music and the foggiest, most surreal-looking fireworks display i've ever seen. i think john williams would have been more suited to our family (sam knows that music better, particularly star wars), but still, it was a lot of fun.

obligatory first day of school photo

- sam started at the onaway preschool the tuesday after labor day. his teacher, the awesome mrs. k, has sent home good reports so far, and sam seems to really be enjoying his time there and making new friends. we did have one report of too much talking (not surprising), but overall, preschool seems to have been a good decision and sam looks forward to the days he has school.

lucy flipping through her books

- lucy, for her part, is enjoying a little bit of only-child time during the two and a half hours that sam spends at school. most of the time she will play quietly by herself (something she doesn't get to do very often when sam is around), and i'm able to put in an hour or so of work. her two favorite pastimes are looking through her books (it's better if someone reads to her, but she will spend lots of time just looking on her own), and going through the box of hand-me-down shoes that came from cousin alice.
this morning we read our way through a stack of books and would probably have kept going if i hadn't popped some baby einstein in the vcr so that i could go make breakfast. i'm pretty sure that if having a kid that won't let me stop reading to them is my biggest problem, then life is pretty good.
lucy's favorite book right now is "brown bear, brown bear" and we've read it so many times that i can just recite it to her (which lucy thinks is almost as good, and likes that best when she's feeling fussy). i think it's the rhythm that she likes, and we often see her rocking back and forth to the words, but i can also see her mouth trying to imitate what she sees my mouth doing when i say the words. if she finds my recitation fascinating, i find her watching me just as much so.
lucy has also gotten to the point where she is easily cruising around the furniture and seems a bit disappointed when she gets to the end, but not confident enough to try to step out on her own. she can (and frequently does) stand up in the middle of the room without holding on to anything, and she can sway and dance and bop there before sitting down (or more likely plopping down) on her bottom.
she is obsessed with babies, and any book that has a baby in it. since baby is one of her few words, she uses it frequently for things that are clearly not babies (like daddy, for instance). she also enjoys giving lots (and lots) of kisses (which i find incredibly endearing, to say the least).
her new word for today was "stinky", which she heard sam say and then kept trying to repeat over and over. she can also say "taco" and "apple" quite well.

so that, basically, is the wrap-up of the last month and a half (or so). we're looking forward to october (though i'm getting anxious about the impending halloween costume making part of the month—ack!) and the candy corn it will bring. we have a few adventures on the horizon, and hopefully there will be more (timely) updates in the near future.

sam in goggles (because, when all is said and done, who doesn't enjoy a photo of a kid in ridiculously over-sized goggles?)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

project lucy—12 months

things i want to remember about one-year-old lucy:
- she will eat a mountain of peas or green beans while waiting for dinner as if it was chocolate chips, or fishy crackers, or grapes. she is my all-star veggie eater and seems to be reinforcing sam's hypothesis that girls eat vegetables and boys eat sausage (except that she eats sausage too).
- she dances to everything (and nothing), and it's awesome. she will also sing if sam is singing, and sometimes for no reason at all.
- she loves stuffed animals, particularly her bear "ed" who gets lots of hugs and kisses on his fuzzy little head.
- she is currently obsessed with babies and loves to point out any "beebees" she sees (this includes sam's ironman action figure and a lego robot that sam made, and sometimes daddy).
- she also enjoys pointing out windows ("dow") and doors ("dow") as well as lights now.
- she also enjoys pointing out daddy (and grandpa).
- i could've sworn she said spongebob today when the tv was on.
- she likes to unload things (toys out of her basket or recycling out of the bin, it doesn't matter), and sometimes she even puts it back when she's done (or at least a little bit).
- she still puts all kinds of crazy stuff in her mouth, but i think she's getting a little better about it, at least, she pauses now if we say "no".
- in the last few weeks since she turned one she's been doing new things by leaps and bounds. she climbs stairs (and the step-stool) with ease and confidence (but she can't get down, so she'll sit and yell until someone comes to the rescue). she will shake her head yes, and make the sign for more, and "peas, peas" in response to my asking "yes, please?" it's kind of adorable.
- she definitely has opinions on things, and she will let us know if things are not happening in the way she wants them to happen (and loudly). 
- she is the perfect person to snuggle up with in the evening, and my favorite person to be out and about with as she is very easy going and enjoys being charming for others.
- and speaking of charming, she crawled up to me today, planted a kiss on my shoulder, and then gave me a mega-watt smile and a hug. she knows how to capture my heart, bigtime.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

my little hero—or how sam saved a damsel in distress

shortly after mike picked the kiddos up from the sitter's yesterday, he messaged me to let me know that sam's good friend tabitha (whom he has been spending his mondays and wednesdays with over the summer) was in the hospital. apparently tabitha had swallowed some small, round magnets that were part of a toy (sam said they looked like gobstoppers). sam, after seeing her swallow one in his presence, immediately went and informed tabitha's mom about what she had done. 
it turns out that tabitha had swallowed a total of 13 magnets over the last few days and without sam's report, no one would have known. we were relieved to hear that she is in good spirits today and that it appears that no permanent damage was done (and i guess those magnets have the potential to do some serious damage). they had to go in with a scope, but it appears that they were able to remove them all, and she is now in recovery.
besides being thankful that tabitha will be fine, i was so glad that sam a) didn't get talked into trying to "taste" any magnets himself, and b) that he knew enough to go and tell an adult what had happened. appropriately, the boy who plays "knights and princess-knights" was able to help rescue his princess-knight friend. my hero!

in other sam news, we had our registration appointment this morning. sam is now an official shaker heights preschool student! we also received his session assignment (he'll be in the afternoon class), and found out his teacher will be mrs. k. there are two pre-preschool events at the end of august, and he will officially start on tuesday, september 3rd!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

the lucy project—month 11

month 11 was a big one for lucy. in the last four weeks, she has:

  • gotten three more top teeth, which followed the first one on the left one after the other toward the right. they all seemed to be coming in almost at the same time, which didn't seem to bother her much during the day, but made sleeping a bit difficult for a few nights. we actually fed her tylenol once when she was particularly miserable, but beyond that, it wasn't so bad. so now she's got a total of six working chompers (all the better to eat birthday cake with, right?) unfortunately, she still thinks that she ought to be putting anything and everything into her mouth (gross!) she particularly enjoys finding my hairs (or pulling them out of my head) and putting them in her mouth (double gross). i can't figure out why anyone would want to put hairs in their mouth, i'm constantly trying to keep from getting them in mine.
  • started crawling—for real. she can get around really well now, which means we're living in a baby-gate environment again. she hasn't attempted going up the stairs yet, so that's a plus. the biggest issue is sam moving the gates and not telling anyone that they're not secured anymore. so far we haven't had any incidents. i'm hoping our luck holds out. in the meantime, she enjoys traveling around the house on her own, and following us around as we do things here and there.
  • started pulling up to stand on her own. it took her a while to feel confident enough to give this a shot, but now she does it really well. convincing sam that she doesn't need helping all the time is still a bit of an issue (such a helpful older brother!), but she handles all the assistance with grace (screeching at the top of her lungs).
  • become obsessed with the remotes. i think i need to locate sam's remote (the one with no batteries that doesn't work a single thing).
  • started pointing out the lights and saying "aye". yesterday we were shopping for groceries and she randomly started pointing and saying "aye!" i think she feels very clever for having figured this out.
  • i'm pretty sure she was trying to say baby the other day (just like sam with the yo-baby yogurt). she kept saying, "beee beee beee." it was pretty cute (of course).
  • started to make this grin when she thinks something is funny where she opens her mouth and crinkles her nose. i tried to get a photo of it, but she's so wiggly that getting a clear shot is practically impossible.
we're now counting down the days until she turns into a "years kid" (as sam puts it). i'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that she's almost a year old. it seems like just a few weeks ago that i brought her little, tiny self home. a few weeks and a million diapers ago, that is.

Monday, June 17, 2013

tunnel of fudge cake—a cautionary tale

as a general rule, i'm not a cake person (i like to save my calories for more important things, like hot pretzels and pie). but there are times when i make an exception, and mom's birthday is one of them.
mom used to make this recipe for aunt margy on her birthday, but now i make it for her on her birthday. it's totally rich and completely delicious. it's also really dangerous (do not keep this cake in your possession unless you have people around to help you eat it. because you'll want to eat it all. you'll try not to, and you'll fail.)

tunnel of fudge cake
cake:
   1 3/4 cups margarine or butter, softened
   1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
   6 eggs
   2 cups powdered sugar
   2 1/4 cups all purpose flour*
   3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
   2 cups chopped nuts (we use walnuts)**

glaze:
   3/4 cup powdered sugar
   1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
   1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons milk

directions:
heat oven to 350°F. grease and flour fluted tube pan or 10-inch tube pan. in large bowl, beat margarine and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. gradually add powdered sugar; blend well. by hand, stir in remaining cake ingredients until well blended. spoon batter into prepared pan; spread evenly. bake at 350°F for 58 to 62 minutes.*** cool upright in pan on wire rack 1 hour; invert onto serving plate. cool completely.
in small bowl, combine glaze ingredients until well blended. spoon over top of cake, allowing some to run down sides. store tightly covered.

*last year i attempted to make this cake while watching sam, forgot to put in the flour, and had to do a total re-do after the inversion was an epic fail. do not forget the flour. it is not optional. this year i waited until the kids went to bed to bake and got it right on the first try. rock.

**nuts are also essential. do not omit. if you don't like nuts, make something else. also, you're crazy. if you're allergic to nuts, you're not necessarily crazy, but you should probably avoid contact with us.

***since this cake has a soft tunnel of fudge, ordinary doneness tests do not apply. accurate oven temperature and bake time are essential. prayers to the baking gods are good too. no burnt offerings.

makes 16 servings
nutrition (1/16th of cake): 540 calories, 8g protein, 58g carbs, 33g fat, 100mg cholesterol, 2g fiber, 300 mg sodium, 160mg potassium, 4% calcium US RDA, 10% iron US RDA

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

the lucy project—month 10

lucy at 10 months old:

  • likes to snack on rice krispies. yes, plain old rice krispies. she's figured out that if she gets her fingers wet, they stick. so she'll put out her little pointer finger and catch one on the tip and then put it in her mouth. she'll sit and eat a whole pile of them this way. it's very cute. plus it makes a great distraction while i'm trying to get dinner made.
  • is still eating like a champ. she consistently amazes me with her willingness to try just about anything i dangle in front of her little mouth. last weekend she ate a bunch of mom's three bean salad, despite the vingary dressing (i don't think sam would've done that at her age). and the tuesday before that she put a ginormous (well, relatively ginormous) piece of watermelon in her mouth before i could cut it up for her. i thought maybe she'd have a little trouble with it, but no, she handled it. and quickly too! her most recent favorites: chocolate chip cookies (duh), ice cream (double duh, and there might be some crying when it's gone), and raisins (i believe she would eat raisins all day long if i let her).
  • is recently doing this yoga move where she puts her head down on the floor while sitting with her legs in front of her, and then gives a great big smile. my little yogi. it reminds me of sam tilting his head and giving his "i'm turning on my cuteness" smile.
  • has discovered the "let's drop this on the floor and see if someone will pick it up for me" game. she loves it. me, not so much.
  • has started to roll a ball back and forth with me
  • can turn off her own light switch (as long as someone is holding her there to do it, of course)
  • likes to brush her own teeth (she recently got her own real toothbrush)
  • and speaking of teeth, is attempting to sprout a third one on top (though oddly, it doesn't appear to be one of the front two)
  • every once in a while will make motions like she's going to go crawling across the floor, or pull herself up to stand holding onto the coffee table. i've never actually seen her do it yet though.
  • will start clapping her hands when she hears me start to sing "if you're happy and you know it" and will click her tongue if she hears me sing the "bingo" song (that's the noise i make when i leave out letters)
  • has actually been going to bed in her very own crib and will typically stay there until 1 or 2am, but i have to put her down on her side. i almost always find her on her back when she wakes up.
  • will sit and play and play as long as sam is in the same room with her (he doesn't even have to be playing with her, just there making noises or describing the "game" he's made up in excruciating detail. that boy is magic. also his imagination is tremendous.)
  • is overall such a sweet, charming little person. i'm still not sure how i got so lucky to have TWO amazing children. probably better not to question it, but just enjoy.

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